by Grace Hatton, Reverb Editor
Every year there are a few events that are staples of the Wilson experience, events like the Circus, Awkward Town, the Winter formal and of course Sparkles and Spandex. The infamous Sparkles and Spandex party had been planned for last Saturday, Sept. 15, however the party was abruptly postponed to later in the month last Wednesday, Sept. 12th. Some students like myself were confused and frustrated at the seemingly sudden postponement of a beloved Wilson tradition.
“I was seriously disappointed that the party was announced and publicized, then was cancelled mid-way through the week with little to no explanation to the campus community, but hopefully there are good reasons behind postponing it” Sophomore Forrest White said.
Yet some on campus do see a positive side to the postponement.
“I’m bummed it’s postponed because I love Sparkles and Spandex,” senior Rachel Tutwiler said. “However, this does give me a lot more time to pick out my outfit which I do appreciate.”
Whether students were frustrated at the sudden postponement or didn’t really mind the delay, what is clear is that the majority of students are confused about the reasons behind the postponement.
“To my knowledge, it’s been postponed because there weren’t enough event monitors,” Tutwiler said. “My guess is this was a result of the new event monitoring training. Students used to be able to just sign up to be an event monitor but now that only trained event monitors are allowed the pool has been limited.”
“I’ve heard talk about a party contract issue,” adds White. “I’ve heard talk about a perceived ‘safety’ issue. I’ve just heard a lot of talk, but we all know how good Wilson is at talking.”
According to senior Grace Weissner, Resident Life has been trying to get more monitors and more RISE advocates to attend the party, “in light of certain students feeling uncomfortable at the event in the past.
“I’ve also heard that the powers that be didn’t actually do a very good job of communicating that need to people who would’ve volunteered before they decided to postpone it,” Weissner said.
As a resident of Stephenson, where the infamous party is traditionally hosted I was able to garner some information as to the causes behind the postponement and what is being required for the party to happen on the 29th.
Last Wednesday the postponement of Sparkles and Spandex was announced to Stephenson during a dorm meeting. When my fellow residents and I inquired as to the reasons behind this occurrence, we were told party monitors who had signed up to monitor the party had dropped out and there wasn’t enough time to replace them due to the new party monitor training rules. As such the party contract did not get turned in on time.
According to Resident Life staff member and Area Coordinator Margot Jebb, the party was postponed “because there was a miscommunication between myself and my staff and the event contract was not turned in on time.”
That being said, I attended the new party monitoring training last Wednesday and I can tell you that the new party monitoring rules are more intense than before and the new system that has been put in place is that only students who have gone through the party monitoring training, which was offered last week, can be party monitors… that’s it. A party the size of Sparkles and Spandex requires eight trained monitors plus the party hosts. Therefore, if what we were told in the dorm meeting is true and party monitors did drop out at the last minute it would be extremely hard to replace them due to the new training.
In addition to the party contract issues, the other reason for the postponement, according to the discussions in the Stephenson dorm meeting, was that Resident Life staff members had expressed concerns over the space and safety issues that had apparently plagued Sparkles and Spandex before. These concerns included belligerent drunks plaguing the celebrations, the Stephenson common area being too dark and crowded, and more.
“Based on the party last year, we had concerns that the amount of the people attending the party had outgrown the space itself,” says Jebb.
No one can deny that Sparkles and Spandex is a crowded, hot and sweaty party but aren’t all Wilson parties? In order to get Sparkles and Spandex back on, the Stephenson Resident Life staff put in a multipage proposal to the Area Coordinators of how to deal with overcrowding and other issues. The plan includes allowing people to enter the party from the basement entrances, turning the Stephenson storage rooms into ‘lounges’ where people can get a respite from the main floor, and issuing wristbands at the entrances to monitor not only numbers of people attending the party but also as a way of monitoring intoxication levels. Party monitors have the right to refuse someone a wristband if they appear to be too intoxicated. According to Jebb, all of these extra precautions and systems are to ensure safety and are for the good of the community, however over the top they may seem.
“To keep it in Stephenson, we adjusted the traffic flow and put a plan in place to control the amount of people in the building at one time,” says Jebb. “The Stephenson RD and RA have put a lot of work into this plan, and we don’t anticipate having any problems when the party does happen. Our expectation of this party is that of any party on campus: the management by the hosts and monitors are to ensure students’ safety and well-being while providing a fun party.”
Which is all well and good but begs the question, would any other party on campus require so much extra attention, or does Sparkles and Spandex have to be turned into such an intense operation and system of checkpoints just because of its bad reputation?
If these expectations are put on all parties across campus, will we see parties and student-run weekend events disappear from campus altogether?
“I remember great events in the past like dance the night a-gay that have faded away due to similar concerns about safety,” says senior Wiessner. “I think it would be a shame if that happened to Sparkles and Spandex too. I don’t think the solution is to postpone or cancel events. I think the solution is to use the opportunity to educate our community so we all feel comfortable. Stopping parties and making the campus dead on weekends is in itself a detriment to our sense of community because we are such a campus centric school and we look forward to these events as opportunities to socialize with friends and meet new people.”
And that’s the essential point. The new rules for party contracts and clampdown on parties with bad reputations like Sparkles and Spandex are all due to resident life fearing for our safety and in turn seeing a lack of community at parties.
If we looked after one another at these events, maybe all of the bureaucracy could be lessened or even avoided altogether. If we look out for the kid clearly drunk off his ass and offer him water and help get him home or to his friends, if we look out for potential sexual misconduct and step in, even just by asking ‘Hey, are you okay?’ and if we treat each other with respect at parties (i.e playgrounds rules, no pushing or shoving), perhaps the powers that be would see that we are in fact a campus full of party till dawn, booty shaking, spandex strutting, and glitter infused young adults that actually give a damn about each other and can in turn have an amazing party like Sparkles and Spandex without safety issues ruining the night.
So I challenge you Warren Wilson, let’s stop our parties being cancelled or postponed by stepping up to the plate and being the conscious, caring community I know we can be in all areas of the Wilson experience, including the parties that might need their reputations cleaned up just a little but are indeed one of the undeniably awesome things about this college.